An AWOL paratrooper has been arrested on charges of being a homegrown jihadist about to launch a terrorist attack on Fort Hood, Texas, site of a similar incident in 2009 which claimed more than a dozen lives.
** QUICK HITS. House Speaker John Boehner has again been forced to delay a vote on his federal budget plan. He’s just having a lot of trouble getting the votes from his own party. Shocking, positively shocking. … Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vows an immediate negative vote on the Boehner bill, if it ever does reach the Senate. … The controversial commander of the Libyan rebel forces, former Gaddafi regime Libyan Interior Minister Abdel Fatah Younes, was killed today under mysterious circumstances. More to follow. … Richard Chavez, brother of Cesar Chavez and a key early organizer of the United Farm Workers, passed away late yesterday at 81 following complications from surgery. He was a good man. …
** OVER AND OUT, ABOVE AND BEYOND: IS THE SPACE AGE OVER OR JUST BEGINNING? Last week’s end of the space shuttle era came with neither a bang nor a whimper, and no little sense of anti-climax. Did it mark the end of the Space Age? Or a new beginning?
I loved the space program. I grew up with it, thrilled to the early Mercury and Gemini missions of the ’60s as a little boy, was transfixed by Apollo and the first landing on the Moon, made all the more memorable by viewing it from the rather unearthly confines of Crater Lake in Oregon. The promise of the future never seemed brighter, or more filled with mystery. The Space Age seemed the exemplar of humanity’s ability to reach for knowledge, to explore, to excel.
In time, of course, it had all become a matter of some routine. With the Cold War imperative of besting the Soviets to the Moon achieved, with serious problems here at home, it faded. Landing on the Moon was a great achievement, but the distance to the Moon, after all, is only ten times one round-trip of the Earth. The planets are much further away, the distance to the stars vaster still. The allure of outer space was replaced by the draw of cyberspace. …
But it seemed, with due respect, rather generic, with a cloudy future overhanging it all. For the first time in 50 years, there is no upcoming mission for Americans going into space. Hastily jump-starting the planned Mercury program in 1961 to follow the Soviets into space, the first rudimentary capsules were followed by the Gemini missions, then the Apollo missions to the Moon into the 1970s, followed by the damaged and short-lived Skylab space station, and finally the 30-year space shuttle program.
What’s the next big mission involving Americans in space who aren’t doing the latest stint on the International Space Station, courtesy of a ride on a Russian Soyuz craft or perhaps a private space company later in the decade? Well, it’s a long ways off, sometime in the next decade. …
On Thursday afternoon, with debate beginning, House Speaker John Boehner is still working to get the votes of his own party for his budget plan.
** NEW POLL: PERRY TAKES LEAD IN THE SOUTH, WHILE ROMNEY HOLDS ON ELSEWHERE IN REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE. With Texas Governor Rick Perry an increasingly likely candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, a new Gallup Poll survey shows an emerging regional breakdown in the race.
The Texas governor has a significant edge starting out in the South, but trails Mitt Romney elsewhere. Romney is much better known right now than Perry, who has only 56% name ID among Republicans nationwide.
Romney has an edge in the Midwest, but that could be neutralized by a Michele Bachmann win in first-in-the-nation Iowa.
It’s only in the West where Romney has a very significant regional advantage. And the Nevada caucuses, one of the opening contests in the race, are likely to be lightly contested because of Romney’s demonstrated edge in the Silver State.
Between that factor and the demonstrated preference of the “national,” i.e., East Coast-based political media to focus on Iowa and New Hampshire and ignore Nevada — they’ll focus on South Carolina, too, as that’s closer to their home bases as well, not to mention Florida — it’s not clear that Romney will get much media push early on from his Western strength.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the favorite among southern Republicans when they are asked to say who they are most likely to support for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination, with a 22% to 13% advantage over Sarah Palin in that region. Mitt Romney has a similar edge, 24% to 12%, over Michele Bachmann in the West. Romney and Rudy Giuliani essentially tie for first in the East, with Romney holding a slight advantage among midwestern Republicans. …
These results are based on a July 20-24 Gallup poll that shows Romney (17%) and Perry (15%) in a statistical tie as the preferred nominee among Republicans nationwide. However, Romney has a more significant lead among the more limited set of announced GOP candidates, which excludes Perry, Palin, and Giuliani.
Perry, who initially said he would not run, is in the process of re-considering that decision and may enter the race in the coming weeks. Should he do so, he would likely be a formidable challenger in the South, which includes key early primary states like South Carolina and Florida. According to Gallup’s image tracking of potential Republican candidates, Perry is currently much better known in the South than in other regions of the country.
The South is the weakest region for Romney, the presumed front-runner in the race, according to data from the July 20-24 Gallup poll. Romney currently has the support of 12% of southern Republicans compared with 17% or more of Republicans in other regions. …
Romney remains the leading contender for the Republican nomination, though clearly not as strong as front-runners in prior GOP contests.
Given Romney’s positioning among southern Republicans, a candidate like Perry could pose the most significant threat to him. One key would be whether Perry, as he became better known (currently 56% of Republicans are familiar with him), would expand his appeal in other regions, or if his core support would remain limited to the South. If the latter, Romney may still be able to hold onto his status as the front-runner even if his support in the South drops. If the former, Perry could emerge as the new GOP front-runner should he become an official candidate.
House Republican leaders are still regrouping around a revamped budget plan, with Speaker John Boehner now hoping for a vote tonight.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
At 12 noon Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office.
Obama has no other events on his public schedule.
Obama continues work on the elusive raising of the federal debt ceiling, with less than a week to go before the deadline.
House Speaker John Boehner, force to retool his bill when it turned out that it was hundreds of billions short of its advertised deficit reduction, is working on rounding up support to pass it in the House.
He hopes for a vote tonight.
But even if Boehner does overcome opposition from the Tea Party, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid vows to defeat Boehner’s bill in the Senate, and has produced a letter to that effect signed by all 53 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus.
The situation is, not to put too fine a part on it, in a state of not quite hysterical chaos.
Putative Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney is notable by his reticence on the crisis. He has refused to take a position one way or another on the Boehner plan.
Rival Jon Huntsman, who has endorsed the Boehner plan while others such as Michele Bachmann predictably criticize it, is hitting Romney for a lack of leadership on the issue.
Meanwhile, Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon will all meet today with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is trying to rally opposition to the Palestinian move to win a September UN General Assembly vote recognizing Palestine as an independent country.
Yesterday’s assassination of Kandahar Mayor Ghulam Haidar Hamedi continues to reverberate in Afghanistan.
The Taliban are claiming responsibility for his death by suicide bombing inside his heavily guarded compound in the hub of southern Afghanistan. This is only the latest major assassination in Afghanistan, again challenging the notion of serious security advances there.
Many feat that the Taliban have infiltrated seeming security arrangements and are staging high-level assassinations on a regular basis.
President Hamid Karzai’s power broker brother was killed inside his own high-security compound in Kandahar just two weeks ago. Then one of Karzai’s most senior advisors, a former provincial governor, was gunned down in his high-security home in the capital city Kabul.
Obama is also monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time, Iraq and Yemen are ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
With high-speed rail slowed in California and the US, systems in China and Europe stand as exemplars of its promise. But Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao toured the site of a July 23rd crash which killed some 40 people, acknowledging major errors. Wen, the country’s most popular leader, also apologized for his delay, citing ill health in advance of next year’s leadership elections, which will take place in a time of growing unrest.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
The latest Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll finds Brown with a 48% job approval rating among likely voters, with a 35% disapproval rating. Among all Californians, Brown is 42-30, with a whopping 28% undecided.
Californians strongly support the basic environmental views held by Brown, with a whopping two to one opposition to new nuclear power plants. This is similar to earlier polls on the matter, taken in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
There is also strong support for the climate change program championed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who successfully defended it against a major initiative last November and whose final job approval rating in the December PPIC poll was 32%.
In a year that has seen both lingering economic distress and extreme weather across the nation, most Californians continue to support the state’s climate change policy. Most believe global warming is a serious threat to the state’s future economy, with 47 percent seeing it as a very serious threat and 28 percent saying it is somewhat serious.
The principle behind AB 32—the California law requiring the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020—enjoys majority support (67% favor, 21% oppose, 11% don’t know). Most (57%) believe that the state government should make its own policies, separate from the federal government’s, to address global warming.
The effects of global warming have already begun in the view of 61 percent of adults. This is an increase of 7 points since last July (54%) but similar to previous years (61% in 2009, 64% in 2008, 66% in 2007, and 63% in 2006).
Another 22 percent say the impact of global warming will occur sometime in the future: 4 percent say it will start within a few years, 7 percent say within their lifetime, and 11 percent say it will affect future generations. Twelve percent say it will never occur. Across parties, Democrats (69%) and independents (62%) are far more likely than Republicans (40%) to say the effects of global warming have already begun. The view that the effects of global warming have begun is up 10 points among Republicans, up 7 points among independents, and similar to last year among Democrats.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … OVER AND OUT, ABOVE AND BEYOND: IS THE SPACE AGE OVER OR JUST BEGINNING?
** OBAMA KABUKI: THE BUDGET AND THE POLITICS OF POSITIONING. What’s President Barack Obama up to in the big federal budget deficit/debt ceiling debate? After months of letting Vice President Joe Biden carry the ball, Obama has placed himself center stage in the midst of controversy, even as agreement seems to get farther away.
What is he really after? To solve the multi-faceted problem? Well, sure, that would be nice. But what he is really after is what all first-term presidents are after. A second term.
Obama, in my opinion, is engaged in what former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called political “kabuki.” A stylized dramatic dance that draws attention while obscuring true purpose.
And what is his true purpose? To appeal to moderates by occupying the center and pushing the Republicans to the starboard side fringe. … From my July 13th column.
** WHY DID JERRY BROWN VETO THE FARM WORKER BILL? It seemed very counter-intuitive. But was it? …
Many were surprised by Brown’s veto, given his long history with the farm worker movement. Which is more extensive than has been widely reported. … From my July 8th feature.
** A SHIFTING REPUBLICAN PARTY MAKES MISCHIEF FOR OBAMA ON LIBYA. … From my July 2nd essay.
** JERRY BROWN FINDS A CALIFORNIA BUDGET THAT FLIES, FOR NOW. … From my June 29th feature.
** OBAMA’S BIG REPUBLICAN PROBLEM (IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK). …From my June 23rd column.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 feature.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th, 2009 Huffington Post column.
NASA is preparing to launch its big unmanned Juno mission to Jupiter.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the Russia Today channel. You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti. While it’s quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $97 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $63 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
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